It looks like John McCain's foreign policy advisers are back in the news -- and not in a good way.
Yesterday, McCain issued a statement urging the Bush administration to enlarge a $6 billion package of military equipment for Taiwan, announced earlier this week. McCain wants submarines and F-16 aircraft added to the package.
But as the Washington Post notes
, the lobbying firm run by Randy Scheunemann, McCain's top foreign policy adviser, in June renewed a $200,00 contract to lobby on behalf of Taiwan. And in 2005, Scheunemann had personally signed the original contract between his firm, Orion Strategies, and the Taiwanese government. (Scheunemann took a leave of absence from the firm to work on McCain's campaign.)The Post
The McCain campaign did not respond to a request for comment on whether Randy Scheunemann, his foreign policy coordinator, had a role in drafting the statement or if he had recused himself.
But that's not the only potential conflict of interest here. As Think Progress points out
, Scheuenemann has also lobbied for Lockheed Martin, which makes the F-16s that make McCain wants to give to Taiwan.
And here's something else worth noting. Another McCain foreign policy adviser
, Bruce Jackson, is a former Lockheed vice president.
Jackson is a close Scheunemann ally, who was at Lockheed until 2002, during the period when, according to Senate disclosure forms, Scheuenemann lobbied for the arms contractor. The two men have worked together closely
since then on efforts to expand NATO into eastern Europe.
In an interview, Jackson told TPMmuckraker that he has no financial stake in Lockheed, and has not spoken to McCain about the Taiwan arms package. He described his advisory role in the campaign as informal, and focused mostly on human-rights issues.
Still, Scheunemann's and Jackson's ties to Taiwan and Lockheed serve as a reminder of the influence of lobbyist and former corporate executives in McCain's campaign -- and of the ways in which the senator's bellicose foreign policy is often in sync with their interests.